Quite possibly the best Hangover Cure EVER.

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Oh Aye.  Get these tasty articles made this weekend. Your broken body and mind will thank me.

Oh Aye.
Get these tasty articles made this weekend.
Your broken body and mind will thank you.

Bacon Nachos. BACON NACHOS.

The tastiest and easiest thing in the world to make when you feel like dying, can’t face going out into the real world to buy something, and the thought of standing over a cooker makes you cry.
We’ve all been there. The very idea of your usual healthy yoghurt/granola breakfast makes you want to throw up both immediately and violently. You’ve managed to hold down two pints of water, some painkillers and maybe a cup of tea, but milk? Good lord, NO. Your dehydrated body needs salt to balance out all that H2O you’re necking at a worrying speed.

In times like this there are many cures…
Black pudding and potato scones stuffed into a good bread roll.
Pancakes with bacon and maple syrup.
The full works fry-up, incorporating all of the meat things AND their vegetarian substitute buddies, with a good dose of grilled tomatoes and fried mushrooms. Oh baby.
Blueberry pancakes with black cherry jam and sausages on the side. OH BABY. What, just me on that one?

The list goes on and on, but sometimes the effort is too much to bear.
Which is why you should always have these staples on hand:

Hmmm....summat missing I feel...

Hmmm….summat missing I feel…

Giant bag of Tortilla Chips.
(You may need up to 4 or 5 depending how many of you are in the hangover submission hold.)
Jar, or jars, of Tomato Salsa.
(You could make your own, but I’d advise against it if you’re still “fucked up”.)
Lots of Grated Cheese. Cheddar.
Whatever strength you like. You can even buy it ready grated and keep in the fridge for cases of emergency. (Again, I’d advise against grating your own unless you want your shaky fingers ripped to bits.)

YAAAASSS!! The crucial ingredient.

YAAAASSS!! The crucial ingredient.

Grilled Bacon, chopped.
Or torn apart with your hands if knives are a worry in your condition.
(You can even pre-grill the bacon the night before and keep him in the fridge, but as long as you don’t set yourself on fire, doing it on the day shouldn’t prove too hard. Just don’t fall asleep while it’s sizzling. Firey bad times :( )

How you layer all these ingredients together really isn’t important, as long as there is cheese on top, a shitload of bacon and rich tomatoey red things, there’s nowt to worry about. JUST REMEMBER THE TORTILLA CHIPS.

Now, shove them in the microwave for a couple of minutes, leaning on the worktop with your head in your hands as you keep an eye on them. Listen to them explode wildly and relax, safe in the knowledge that the roof of the food robot can always be cleaned tomorrow.

You can also stick the bowls under the grill, but it takes longer, you have to bend down/keel over to see how they’re doing, and the risk of them catching fire may be slightly higher if you lose your balance at any point.

OH AYE.

OH AYE.

These really are the business.
Do not panic over health qualities, nor salt content, for that is not important when dealing with the booze-lurgy.

Try them! Make your own variations!
Add pickled jalapenos or fresh chopped chillies!
Add sun dried tomatoes or olives!
Veggie? Leave out the bacon! 
Try turkey bacon! (Even though it is SYNTHETIC CHEMICAL LADEN EVIL.)
Screw turkey bacon, CHOPPED CHORIZO!
Experiment with different cheeses!

Add guacamole and sour cream!
No salsa? Try Branston Pickle!
(Seriously, it’s way better than it sounds. But then I have been known to indulge in a giant bowl of cherry tomatoes, sugarsnap peas, cheese and Branston Pickle for dinner, eat full jars of pickled onions, drink cider vinegar, or cover roast chicken in malt vinegar, so again, maybe it’s just me…)

Young Leith Ghost Team Mini Zines #1 and #2 are done!

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Pound coin, matchstick and eh, Lego Triple H to show actual size.

Pound coin, matchstick and eh, Lego Triple H to show actual size.

First photocopies done at wee local printshop, and they’ve worked this time!
IMG_8441   IMG_8447
Yaaasss! No smudging, no “runny eyes”, all folded up nicely. If a little rough round the edges.
As mentioned before, no fancy shrinkage of the original doodles in photoshop or anything. I have extremely small handwriting when I don’t actively try to write large. These are actual, real size. And no worries over actual, real printing with intent to sell. I genuinely don’t think these fellas should be sold. I don’t think actual, real people would have much interest in something, well, quite as random.
IMG_8430   IMG_8435
Perhaps out of context the likes recipes etc with friendly ghosts may appeal to the casual man in the street [with a forthcoming sartorial elegance issue maybe appealing to the less-than-casual man about town…] but I seriously doubt that an introduction to the gaggle of oddbods appearing in these minizines would:
IMG_8429    IMG_8427
I can imagine the puzzled looks and questions of “mental age” already.
They appeal to me, obviously, but then I have a long history with many of these guys.
I know everything about them, but also – they know everything about me.

Outwardly, I talk a lot, and most likely appear to be some kind of permanently upbeat loony. Interested in daft things and always up for fun. Of course I am. This is part of me I never want to lose.

If anyone ever gets to know half of what the hell goes on in this head, they may understand the need to be obsessed with fun things. But I panic that I may alienate people by being like such an overgrown child. I have lots of amazing and wonderful friends, but often I worry none of them know me because I talk loads, but end up saying nothing. Most of it is utter bullshit. I often worry about being “one of they people who talks aboot themsels a lot” but it’s never about anything important, nor is it to the detriment of a normal conversation. At least I hope so. Manic crazy-breakdowns and prescription blackouts aside, of course. Been some strange times in the past.

Mostly it’s all a bit
“Look at this crazy shit I made!”
“I read something about what we’re talking about on one this mental website! Here, let me share!”
*Insert innuendo and really bad jokes*
“Let me tell you some mad stuff!”
“I watched this and oh my God so should you!”
“Here! Look!! This is my latest obsession!!!”
*Insert things about ghosts/wrestling/foodstuffs with faces*
“This person is amazing and here’s why!”
*Plans daft shenanigans*
“I’m totally gonna get into ______”
“Look at this crazy shit I made!”

I can’t help it. And will likely never change. It’s not that I don’t have serious things going on, it’s just…well there is enough in here that could drag me down if I let it and I’d rather not. It can go elsewhere. Mad stuff is my life.
Smiley faces and colourful characters are like an addiction. I need them.
Just like I need these wonkily drawn ghosts.

I’m sometimes told I’m a good listener which makes me happy. Making other people happy is the only thing I ever want to do. The thought of not doing so can be crippling. The thought of being an annoyance in any way? Oh God, please no. Often people will share their problems with me, and I love being able to help people with bad shit. Because bad shit is never fun. I can share life experiences or similar situations, or those of others I know in order to facilitate some problem solving. I can use previous training that didn’t turn out to be helpful on the job front – but did in real life – to make people comfortable with opening up if they need to. It would be good if I could do this myself, but hey. I find it easier to listen to the problems of others than share my own. When I do, I feel terrible for it almost immediately, and a week long period of self-loathing may commence.
“These people have not been paid to listen to your shit. NOW STOP IT.”
I have no idea why. I bet other people don’t feel like this.

Gavib Green, defender of the pie.

Gavib Green, defender of the pie.

With anything off limits to the real world, the ghostly guys have been my saviour. Some of them have been around for years. I’m not afraid of sounding mental in saying I talk to them. Hey, everyone already thinks I’m mental, so why not give them more wood for the fire so they know, eh? At times over the years they have often been the only people I feel comfortable talking to about big things, or serious things, particularly when feelings of outstaying a welcome or burdening friends take over. But they are there for good times as well as bad. Instant fun can be had interacting with their personalities as I doodle them. Or out and about in real life…“Gavib would fucking LOVE that cake…”
They’re great lads. Just draw one of them, and there’s someone there for you in an instant. Or better still, MAKE ONE, and have a tangible creature in front of you.

Worry Ghosts!

Worry Ghosts!

This is where the Worry Ghosts came from. Can tell those crazy bastards anything. Just getting it out makes everything a little better. The smiles never turn into frowns, and I never feel bad talking at them. Like my own Young Leith Ghost Team, they’re even there at three in the morning if need be.

I like these words of Cormac McCarthy:
“The one thing I can tell you is that you won’t survive for yourself. I know because I would never have come this far. A person who has no one would be well advised to cobble together some passable ghost. Breathe it into being and coax it along with words of love. Offer it each phantom crumb and shield it from harm with your body.”

Not that I have ‘no one’, quite the opposite these days. These guys have gone from being the only reachable buddies to the add-on extensions of friendships that I treasure.
I wonder if Cormac had ghosts too?
I’d have likely been dead a good few years ago if it hadn’t been for mine. Now they just have to hurry up and write some fucking prize winning fiction for me ;)

To be found somewhere in Leith, soon.

To be found somewhere in Leith, soon.

They have taken on a full life of their own now and have become much more than imaginary companions/sounding boards/counsellors. But I think for now, I intend to leave these lovingly crafted weird articles in the places I frequent around Leith, and see what happens. Keep being the person who loves fun things, who only wants to be fun to be around, but spread the madness further.

No one will have a clue what they are, anyway. ‘MON THE YLGT!

Tales of the Little Iron Sheik: Spicy Shredded Beef

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OH AYE!

OH AYE!

Soup, is all well and good, but what about real food?” asked Gavib Green, YLGT ghost, as he floated round the kitchen bemoaning the lack of kitchen action going on.
Alright, alright. Calm doon. What about an experimental re-creation of yon spicy beef you love so much up at Pinto’s? Yes? Right then. Be quiet and let me get on with it.

Armed with internet access and a scribble pad, I found this cracking recipe over at Paleo Newbie for slow cooked spicey shredded beef tacos that seemed to fit the bill. Gave it a whirl…
IMG_8371INGREDIENTS:
1kg Braising Steak
1 Onion, diced
2 Fresh Chillies, diced
3 Garlic Cloves, chopped and diced finely
1/4 cup Lime Juice
1/4 cup Beef Stock
3 tbspns Tomato Puree
1 tbspn Cayenne Chilli
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper

– Season meat with salt and pepper, then mix spices and rub in.
– Place meat in slow cooker with onions, garlic and chilli.
– Mix liquid ingredients and pour over beef.
– Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours, or HIGH for 4-6 until meat is tender and pulls apart easily. Of course I cooked mine on HIGH. I couldn’t wait, plus the wailing cries of Gavib and my husband as their bellies grumbled was too much. ‘Sake. Stick the rice on, guys ;)
– Shred meat with a fork, and mix with the juices in the slow cooker.
IMG_8382Oh Aye. That’s the stuff.
IMG_8366I didn’t go for all of Gavib’s thoughtbubble – Rice, Pinto Beans, Salsa, Grated Cheese, Refried Beans, Guacamole, Sour Cream, Tortillas, Tacos, Pickled Jalapenos – but you can.
IMG_8384GUACAMOLE INGREDIENTS
1 ripe Avocado
1 Garlic Clove, minced
juice of 1 Lime
1 Tomato, finely chopped

WAIT! Hang on! I forgot the tomato there, what in the hell?
Ah well. It’s okay. I’m trying it with chicken right now. I’ll take an accurate recipe reflection picture this time.

This was GORGEOUS. And having it for lunch for the next two days as well was nowt but an amazing bonus level. GET IT DOON YE! :)

“We didn’t burn them!” Fairy Cake Success

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Hola!

Hola!

It’s been years since I baked. And by ‘baked’ I don’t mean something I’ve sprinkled out of a packet and thrown some milk into. Used to make actual, real cakes. Basic stuff, mind, nowt fancy. My Granda was a baker. Wasn’t the done thing to not know how to knock at least something up with flour, eggs, butter and sugar. Lost the strength to beat the batter, so stuck with all yon overpriced synthetic Betty Crocker nonsense. Should be fine now…a nice confection of chiropractic, yoga, painkillers and multiple supplements I can’t even name are helping my done-in body on bad days. Started buying books on baking, and looking up recipes online, but man…everything looked so far removed from the stuff I watched my Mum make. Even the simplest things seem so damn complicated. They’re fairy cakes, how can a fairy cake need ten bloody ingredients?

Four things. They're made using FOUR THINGS!  This didn't stop me buying a whole whack of baking "equipment". This isn't even half of it.

Four things. They’re made using FOUR THINGS!
This didn’t stop me buying a whole whack of baking “equipment”.
This isn’t even half of it.

Eventually, after reading about 12 recipes for basic cupcakes – all of them different – I gave up, thought fuck it, and tried to remember what used to get chucked in the bowl when I was wee. It’s all about similar amounts, right? I can make a recipe out of this nonsense. Here goes nothing…
IMG_8324FLOUR.
Right. Hiya Fred! We’ll start with flour. 125 grams is the only number that matches in 3 of the bastard recipes.
IMG_8326BUTTER.
We’ll keep the basics on the same level then. 125 grams of butter it is. Unsalted, but he’s still happy.
IMG_8330CASTER SUGAR.
None of your grainy, normal sugar business. Needs to be fine. 125 grams again? Aye.
IMG_8337EGGS.
Shit. Eggs! How many? These recipes are no help with their talk of “Large”…three medium free range fellas will have to do…I’ll just keep adding till it becomes reminiscent of the cake batter I ate raw as a child.
IMG_8331So there’s the ingredients sorted. Now the oven…quick google, and the general consensus seems to be 180 C/160 C Fan Assisted Oven/Gas Mark 4. PREHEAT THE OVEN, AND GO!

1. CREAM THE BUTTER AND SUGAR.
Yaaaasss!! I mean, NOOOOO!! The reason I stopped doing this shit. Shoulda bought a mixer, Shaky Ghost…shoulda bought a mixer…IMG_8332Christ…what the hell…this bastard is – to quote my beloved Stone Cold Steve Austin – ONE TOUGH SON OF A BITCH! Stay on target…STAY ON TARGET. Beat the hell out of that sugar and butter, S.G! On yersel! Screw you, ill things. You’ve stopped me from running, you’ve stopped me doing weights, you’ve messed with my spine, made me stop doing half of my job and now you’re dicking about with my yoga for shits n’ giggles every so often, but GOD DAMN IT – YOU WILL NOT COME BETWEEN ME AND CAKES.
IMG_83352. ADD EGGS AND FLOUR TO CREAMED BUTTER AND SUGAR.
Now, I remember being told something about mixing them in gradually, in alternate amounts. And to always, ALWAYS sift the flour. It adds lightness and airy-ness to cakes, but also…I have vague memories of being told tales of flour bugs? o_O
I read some things about adding baking powder, but don’t ever remember using that in years gone by for fairy cakes? Ah, who cares. I’ll leave it out and see what happens. At worst, they’ll be food for the birds and the mice probably living in the walls.
IMG_8338            IMG_8340
3. DIVIDE BATTER EVENLY BETWEEN CAKE CASES.
Hmmm…he’s looking a bit on the thick side. Oh no. How many cases? I’m sure I remember something about “filling two thirds of the case”…how can I judge “heights” when these looked like – pardon the phrasing – heaps of shite. Okay, so there’s about 12. I’m sure this is fine. Oh God. Make sure the cases are in a bun tin, and not just sitting on a normal baking tray, as this would end in complete and utter “Pinterest Fail” giant-pancake-with-paper-filling disaster. You do not want this.
IMG_83424. EAT REMAINING BATTER LEFT IN BOWL.
Well I did this for years in the eighties and all through some salmonella contamination scares, and I turned out okay. Actually, on second thoughts, maybe don’t take this advice. *OBLIGATORY DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME* etc. I will, because it tastes as good as I remember when me and my big brother fought over it.
IMG_83435. PUT CAKES IN THE PREHEATED OVEN TO BAKE FOR 15 to 20 MINUTES.
IMG_83446. BREATHE SIGH OF RELIEF AS THEY LEVEL OUT.
IMG_83467. PANIC AS THEY START TO RISE AT A TERRIFYING RATE…
IMG_8349…then begin to look normal and less “behemoth-like”…
IMG_83548. REMOVE FROM BUN TIN AND PLACE ON WIRE RACK TO COOL.
IMG_83579. EAT ONE TO CHECK YOU WILL NOT KILL ANYONE.
Thankfully, they have turned out to be cooked right through, and are quite tasty.

10. TO DECORATION! AND BEYOND! ABOUT MAYBE 225g SIFTED ICING SUGAR?
6 TEASPOONS OF WATER TO START, ADD 1/2 a TEASPOON BIT BY BIT.
…until it forms a smooth and spreadable icing that will not dribble all over your cakes and ruin them entirely. Add some food colouring. How much is up to how bright you want them, and how hyperactive you want your kids to be for the rest of the week.
       IMG_8359      IMG_8358
Go pure mental on this part. Make them look tasteful, artistic, minimalist or turn them into crazy bastard nightmares. There are no rules. I often get panicky upon seeing the amount of butter that goes into a good buttercream cake topping, so that shit is being reserved for special occasions. Glace all the way, baby…Oh aye! Check out these wee guys!

Not bad. THEY WORKED!!

Not bad. THEY WORKED!!

11.  REJOICE IN YOUR CREATIONS AND THEIR LACK OF UNEXPLAINED “STABILIZERS”, PRESERVATIVES AND “GUMS”.

Tales of the Little Iron Sheik: Lentil and Bacon, Baby!

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YES!

YES!

There’s a first time for everything, and this weekend saw the birthing of the Little Iron Sheik and his first pot of slow-cooked goodies. Being shit-scared of cooking in general, I decided to play it safe and stick with soup making. I usually manage to not fuck this up completely, and find a multitude of sins can be hidden within its liquified goodness. For reasons of “much loved comfort foods” and “only things I can cook”, myself and the Sheik went for Lentil. With added pig. Mmmmm.
1592 sticks of celery, 3 normal sized carrots, an onion and 2 cloves or garlic were diced.
161About 5 rashers of smoked bacon – with all the fat trimmed off because I’m a bit mental about that – were chopped into decent sized squares. I say chopped, but there was much difficulty and swearing involved before a final “fuck it” resulting in the use of kitchen scissors.
165The bacon was fried gently (on top of the cooker, in the removeable pot of the Iron Sheik because he is downright amazing) until the smell started to make my hungover belly ache with starvation.
166The veggie fellas were then thrown in to the Sheik’s pit and fried until soft.
163While doing this I threw in a teaspoon of dried basil, a pinch of ground nutmeg, 3 teaspoons of worcestershire sauce (oh baby) and seasoned with a good dose of ground black pepper.
164Time for the big guns. A 400g can of chopped tomatoes, 1 litre of ham stock and 200g orange lentils.
169There’s no real need to add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper at this point, but I did. Because pepper and spices are the bomb, and a little bit of chilli makes everything better.
168Here’s a picture of the lentils. Because I like them. No other reason. There’s not another recipe step involved or anything like that. They just make me happy. Look at them. LOOK AT THEM.
171Everything was brought to the boil for about 2-3 minutes then transferred to the base unit of the Iron Sheik. If you look closely, there’s a bit of bacon in this picture that looks like some kind of dinosaur/lizard/alien escaping from John Hurt’s abdomen. Can you see it?
174According to the Sheik’s instructions, soup should be left for at least 4-6 hours on the medium setting, or longer on low. Fuck to that noise. I was so hungry. 3 hours on high would have to do the job…
175…even though I spent an hour of this attempting to see through the glass lid, worrying…”What’s going on?!”…don’t break the seal, DON’T BREAK THE SEAL!
177Holy hell! Check out this bad boy! 3 hours did indeed turn out to be the charm. Thickest, tastiest, spiciest and best lentil and bacon soup I think I’ve ever made. And given that lentil soup, chilli and random stir fries are pretty much the only thing I have ever been able to cook for about 20 years or so, that’s a lot of practice with a big pan which now pales into watery rubbish next to the contents of the Iron Sheik. When are we doing this again, Sheiky baby?